Like him or not, Jon Jones has made his return in formidable fashion. The 30-year-old, considered by many the best mixed martial artists of all time, beat his arch rival Daniel Cormier via TKO in the third round of the UFC 214 main event, reclaiming the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship. But as important as the action from bell to bell was what happened afterwards.
Jones not only seemed to make a babyface turn, finding nice words for Cormier (“He’s a model champion, a great human being.”), he also called out Brock Lesnar. Later at the press conference, Jones underlined his intentions: he has learned from Conor McGregor that there is a lot of money to make, and he wants these fights which would bring him big purses now. Lesnar, a currently retired heavyweight and WWE star, could very well be the perfect opponent for Jones.
“I think what the fans really want to see is me challenge myself against a heavyweight,” Jones said on FOX’s post-fight show. “Why not do it against the biggest and one of most scary heavyweights in UFC history in Brock Lesnar. He brings a tremendous following, and I just think it would be so great for the sport of MMA.”
With his charisma and sometimes infamous promos, Lesnar has made fans either like or hate him, but most certainly care about him. The 40-year-old was quick to respond to Jones’ challenge. “Be careful what you wish for, young man,” Lesnar told Associated Press.
While Lesnar still has to serve out the remainder of an outstanding USADA suspension, a dream matchup between the arguably best fighter ever in Jones and a scary self-proclaimed caveman in Lesnar is not out of the realm of possibilities—especially with the UFC desperately looking for box office success.
It also shows how Jones is entering a different stage of his career. With his second win over Cormier, he has basically cleaned out the light heavyweight division. A rematch against Alexander Gustafsson or a title defense against the Swiss knockout artist Volkan Oezdemir, who Jones out of unknowingness continues to call a Russian, would be the reasonable choice from a sporting perspective. Though, in the current era, Jones wants to cash in and capitalize on his star power.
“Now is the time for [super fights]. I feel like I don’t really have much to prove in [the light heavyweight] division anymore,” he said after yesterday’s fight. “Now is the time to branch out and experiment with some real big fights. Get paid.”
What makes Jones also scarier than ever is that he has a degree of self-awareness he lacked throughout most of his professional career. He accepts that he is no saint and, at the same time, understands how his unique skills could bring him historic success and monetary security.
His new mindset allows the 30-year-old to be more focused and aware of what lies in front of him. “It’s almost nerve-racking how I wasn’t afraid [before the fight against Cormier],” Jones analyzed. “It goes to show me and my team how I’m ready for more.”